TUESDAY, Jul. 3, 2007 - Norma Johnson

Monday, July 2, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Speedy - three theme answers are all phrases that end with a word that can mean "speedy" (though used here in a non-"speedy" sense)

This was a very easy puzzle, with only a few minor trouble spots. All in all, a solid, middle-of-the-road Tuesday effort. I'm especially happy that all the "speedy" synonyms are used in non-"speedy" contexts here - that is how I prefer my themes to be executed; shows a certain cleverness, not to mention added level of difficulty. After yesterday's "Beforehand" puzzle, where three of the four "hands" were basically farm-workers, I was happy to see a nice, wide range of reference here.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Deeply hurt (cut to the QUICK)
  • 36A: Ramadan observance (religious FAST) - [Reason for not eating] would have worked better, only because "religious" is redundant here; if it's a Ramadan observance, then by definition it's "religious."
  • 54A: Gulliver's creator (Jonathan SWIFT) - I once misspelled "Jonathan" in a paper I wrote on Swift in college. Turns out, it was the professor's son's name, so ... the professor noticed. That professor also drove a Miata. How's that for a non sequitur?

Why no FLEET? Probably because there are no good expressions or phrases that end in FLEET.

Featured Five:

3D: Semiformal (black tie) - I thought BLACK TIE meant "formal." Shows you how many times I've worn a tux in my life (one: my sister's wedding)

10A: Hook attachment (bait)
10D: Petty officer (bosun)

I had LINE and LIEUT for a few seconds ... LIEUT!? Whatever. It felt right. While we're in the NW ... I love all the hard "C" sounds up here, with ANTICS (11D: Class clown's doings) and ICICLE (12D: Yule tree hanging) and TERKEL (13D: Pulitzer winner Studs) all in succession.

17A: Colorful food fish (opahs) - oh the "S" here is truly annoying. If you would not say TROUTS (and you wouldn't), you would not say OPAHS. Not only is OPAHS infinitely less common than OPAH, if you Google OPAHS, Google thinks you made a mistake and asks "Did you mean OPRAH'S?"

61A: Game played on a wall (darts) - I had DART before I knew the answer. The board hangs on a wall ... it's a stretch. Don't like it. People play DARTS in pubs, and many pubs are IRISH - I would have liked a very different answer for 66A: Like leprechauns, though; TERRIFYING, perhaps. Or, if you need just five letters, SCARY.

63D: _____-crab soup (she-) - not two minutes ago, my wife burst out laughing from the next room. When I asked her "What is it?" She exclaimed, in disbelief, "SHE-crab soup?!" My thoughts exactly. Does not sound appetizing, though as seafood answers go, it beats OPAHS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Linda G 11:19 PM  

I'm with you on black tie. What's more formal than a tux?

And I've worn one the same number of times you have ; )

Anonymous 11:22 PM  

hmmm -- there's "follow the fleet" -- but at 14 letters, not a good fit for ms. johnson's nifty themed answers.



p.s. i think "white tie" is one notch up in the "formality" scale...

Alex S. 11:33 PM  

I believe white tie is the truly formal attire.

When the queen visited last month Bush hosted one of his few (only?) white tie events.

Anonymous 11:50 PM  

As I don't eat shell-fish I remebered she crab from prior puzzles and perhaps even from this blog. I recall thinking it made no sense but it seems I have it filed away in the crossword file of my brain.

Orange 12:09 AM  

I condemn the misogyny of "she-crab." Is this about PMS?

Campesite 3:34 AM  

...for fleet, perhaps: Something Chester Nimitz led: A PACIFIC FLEET? Ok, lame. Goodnight.

Anonymous 3:53 AM  

Fleet of foot comes to mind but to get the theme word at the end it would have to be foot of fleet . . .

Must be late

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

What is a "mash" note?

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Yes, white tie is the formal dress code. I think there's also "court dress."

She-crab soup is Maryland blue crab soup with the addition of crab roe. Very delicious. Another great Maryland specialty is shad roe (but only fresh! never from a tin!)And of course caviar is roe. A common Greek appetizer is taramosalata, cured carp roe. Also very yummy. Some people are squeamish about eating fish roe, but have no problem downing bacon and eggs for breakfast. Go figure.


Linda G 8:42 AM  

Anne, the verb MASH means to flirt...usually involving sexual innuendos or advances. It's actually one of its nicer definitions.

And I have never heard of white tie. Then again, Bush rarely invites me anywhere.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

"Ships that pass as a knight?": Armored fleet?

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

What about Starfleet Command?

crossnerd 10:20 AM  

Oh, I totally missed SHE-crab soup when looking for things I didn't know to talk about.

Quick glance of Google indicates that SHE-crab soup is a real thing, as is the corresponding HE-crab soup. Huh.

crossnerd 10:21 AM  

What I was originally commenting to say before I got distracted by the SHE-crabs:

STARFLEET would've been good, but it's just not long enough.

Harleypeyton 10:51 AM  

Follow The Fleet is the natural, but too long. Then there's the Fleet Enema -- leader in its field! -- which would lead to an interesting clue or two.

Commence punning.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

"Formal" indicates white tie with tails . . . semiformal is blacktie, no tails . . . generally tails are only worn in the evening (after 6pm).
She-Crab soup is an absolutely delicious thing . . . you all need to make it to the east coast more often!!


PS - ditto on the Mash note question!

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Here is an excellent discussion of MASH NOTE. I was not familiar with MASH NOTE, but was familiar with MASHER, which I always used to refer to a person who was a lady-killer in his own mind and made direct and steamy advance toward women on the assumption that he was irresistible.


Steve M

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Anonymous 10:54 summed up the dress code question.
I loathed the clue for dart board as depicted as a game played on a wall. So inacurate and sloppy, really.

fergus 1:22 PM  

Isn't there some expression "The victory GOES TO THE FLEET"? Seems like I heard that somewhere, but maybe it was using another adjective.

Orange 1:30 PM  

That should be the Fleet Enema slogan!

fergus 2:03 PM  

... and to the victor go the spoils"

Anonymous 2:20 PM  


There is a chestnut from the world of gambling and horseracing to the effect of "the race does not always go the swift, but that is the way to bet." I suspect that SWIFT is more likely to appear than FLEET in any such chestnuts.

Steve M

Michael 3:36 PM  

I never heard of SHE-crab soup either.

Also is ICICLE really a Yule tree hanging? Maybe a pine tree at Yule-time, i.e. winter, has an icicle on it, but that clue seemed to imply more of a holiday decoration thing no? At first, I thought the answer was TINSEL.

I don't celebrate Xmas, so what do I know. Then again, I don't celebrate Ramadan either and I got RELIGIOUS FAST without any confusion.

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

Michael, I had "tinsel", too, and it fit fine, since I had filled in "cut to the chase" before I figured out the theme. Tinsel is supposed to look like icicles, I think. But some folk hang glass or plastic ornaments that more closely approximate the real thing. My family stopped using tinsel after the notorious Christmas Day of 1976, when our cat, quite distressed, came running into the dining room (during a fancy dinner attended by neighborhood guests) with a long piece of tinsel protruding from his hind end... ugh

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

No one had a problem with 68A? What is naes?

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

Thanks to you all, especially Steve M. for the reply on mash note. Isn't that a little obscure for a Tues? How about way to prepare a potato?

fergus 7:04 PM  

NAES ?? Och, Laddie, Tha's joost a wee bit o' rubbish toss't inna many a pooozle.

Apparently, the Scots are incapable of offering a simple NO.

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

Hi guys:

Also seen tinsel trailing from ass of cat. Funny stuff.

PG :)

bitten 1:07 AM  

She-crab soup is a big thing in the South, particularly Charleston. I'd never heard of it before I went there, but it was on almost every menu in the city.

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